All posts for the month January, 2016

The full text of this speech published in the Transhumanist Reader can be found here:

I would like to have this as the topic of a reading group because Prof. Minsky covers some great ideas related to understanding and using multiple representations to solve problems. The last sentence is funny: “I think I’ve over-talked, but I’ll be glad to start a fight with anyone who wants to.” Reminds me of something straight out of Hermann Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game. I wonder why he thinks that being agnostic is a mental illness. His speech structure has been paraphrased in parts, I’m sure but this does strike me as a roughly verbatim translation of his larger speech patterns. Paragraph length concepts are structured into ideas that are multiple paragraph length essays each. Here are a few reading questions that we may want to discuss:

  1. What are three Extropian goals that Prof. Minsky mentions?
  2. Why does Prof. Minsky believe that Freud was a good AI researcher from 1895–1905?
  3. What are three types of problems that Prof. Minsky mentions that he thinks automated commonsense reasoning would be useful for automatically solving?
  4. What is Prof. Minsky’s definition of Carl Pribram’s “Project for Scientific Psychology”?
  5. What is Prof. Minsky’s argument against Searle’s “Chinese Room” argument?
  6. What is Prof. Minsky’s argument against Penrose’s argument against an AI being called “conscious”?
  7. Why does Prof. Minsky describe Rod Brooks’ robot COG as a “hoax”?
  8. What is one type of intelligence that Prof. Minsky mentions that Doug Lenat’s program, AM (Automatic Mathematician), demonstrated?
  9. What is Prof. Minsky’s definition of “The Sparseness Hypothesis”?
  10. What is Prof. Minsky’s like and dislike of Bart Kosko’s speaking style that Prof. Minsky describes as “a whole lecture per sentence”?
  11. What is an example long range planning problem that Prof. Minsky mentions could be solved by Roger Shank’s approach to long range planning?
  12. What is an example of a problem that Prof. Minsky mentions that could be solved by using multiple representations?  What types of knowledge does he mention that each of those representations would contain?
  13. What is Prof. Minsky’s definition of “consciousness”?
  14. What is Prof. Minsky’s definition of “understanding”?

It’s strange to imagine Preview Marvin not here. Dustin Smith and I worked side by side, helping to TA Marvin’s class for a number of years as we finished our PhDs. Dustin and I each had different advisors, as many PhD students experience, the academic process is often not as clean cut as a boss-employee relationship and Dustin and I felt this very strongly as we found ourselves as academic orphans Letter when our advisor, Push Singh, passed away. Push was Marvin’s “last PhD student” as Dustin and I always thought of it (not to speak for Dustin, but I seem to remember us speaking about it Welcome that way).
Marvin was a pillar. Marvin is a pillar. For many of us, Marvin will always be cheap jerseys a pillar, holding up his side of the argument, against Noam Chomsky or Rodney Brooks or the latest “emotional” computing fad or pop psychological research, or the latest neuroscience fad, or supporting the less popular but valuable intellects, such as Freud. Marvin was a fighter and being near him trained Dustin and me to be intellectual fighters in our own rights. Marvin was not afraid to stand alone. Marvin was not afraid to voice an unpopular opinion. Marvin was often right. He made theories where others were too afraid to begin to speak. Others did incremental research, while Marvin forged wholesale MLB jerseys ahead. Marvin described to the neuroscientists and cognitive scientists Karmann what they would find in the brain. When naysayers questioned him, he listened carefully.

Marvin worked for the good of the theory. If you had a bad idea that didn’t make sense, your logic would be destroyed where you stood (or sat) in his classroom. The power of Marvin’s logic was too much for some. Others found it to fuel their inspiration, as I did. I ended up working under Marvin (or his student, Push) for my entire career at MIT, with the exception of one year under John Maeda when I first joined MIT. To my initial surprise, Marvin has a beautiful wife, Gloria, and they have beautiful children, all programmers of course, although only one professionally employed as such. How could such a powerful intellectual fighter have a nurturing and loving side? Marvin was a kind father-like, grandfather-like, humble, advisor, despite his attack-dog defensive instincts for his young. I was grateful to have Marvin on my team when I studied at MIT. I was honoured to be on Marvin’s team.

I am not self-reflective cheap NFL jerseys enough to understand his impact on my mind, but I am grateful to work near him toward the end of his career. I think we’re all going to miss this gentle and powerful member of our team. I was lucky to visit Marvin and Gloria and sit with them at their house during the weekend of the Media Lab’s 30th reunion last Halloween. I am sad that I will never speak with him again. My condolences to Interesting Marvin’s family and the thousands of students and friends and colleagues that Marvin maintained.